He was driving down a road, the day of Super Bowl LIII. From behind him, he saw flashing blue and red lights–a police car–and he was pulled over. The officers said nothing to him, all they said was, “We got Savage,” claimed the hip hop star. “I was just driving, and I just seen guns and blue lights. And, then, I was in the back of a car and I was gone.”
That was 21 Savage, or Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, talking to Good Morning America about his arrest by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The UK native was caught on Sunday, February 3rd and brought to an ICE detention facility in the state of Georgia because he was overstaying his visa. This reveal was a big shock to the hip hop community, as everyone thought he was born and raised in Atlanta. Savage immigrated to America when he was seven and did not know what a visa was. Savage told Davis that he did not know “how it would affect [his] life in the future.” As he grew older, he did not want come out and say, “Hey, by the way, I wasn’t born here,” but, he also didn’t want to hide the fact that he was living under an expired visa.
Savage is no stranger to trouble. At the age of twelve, he brought a gun to school and held and threatened a classmate at gunpoint. He was banned from all schools in the DeKalb County School District. Instead of going back to school, he joined the East Atlanta Wider Bloods. He would get involved in gang violence and sold drugs, mainly marijuana. In 2014, he was convicted for multiple drug charges and was arrested. However, the ICE arrest was the first time he feared deportation. During his Good Morning America interview, Savage said, “I don’t think the policy is broken, I think the way they enforce the policy is broken.”
While he is concerned about possibly being deported, he says, “but I feel like I’ve been through so much in my life, I’ve learned to embrace the times I’ve been down cause they always beating me up.”
He spent nine days in the detention center, and was released on a $100,000 bond. Bryan Cox, an ICE spokesman told ABC News that ICE does not make any bond decisions, and that they respect the court’s decision for letting Savage off with a bond.
His British background came as a surprise to the hip hop community. In a world where representing where you’re from is part of your authenticity and credibility, some made light of the situation. Celebrities like Diplo and Demi Lovato mocked him on social media but then received a backlash from his supporters including Offset, Jay-Z, Cardi B, and Kendrick Lamar. Lovato deleted her Twitter and issued an apology on Instagram the following day.
At the end of the day, it seems the hip hop community is accepting that Atlanta is where Savage spent most of his life growing up, not in the UK. That other rappers are supporting his claim to Atlanta matters a lot. Jay-Z has set up a legal team for the rapper, to try to save him from the threat of deportation.
Image: Flickr/Dan Garcia